ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER
OF THE SOCIETY OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE (PALLOTTINES)
Monday, 10 October 2016
Dear brothers and sisters, welcome!
I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of your twenty-first General Assembly. I cordially greet you and thank your Superior General for his words. I extend my greetings to all the members of the Society of Catholic Apostolate and to all who share the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti. He has become an enlightening and inspiring beacon in the Church. His charism is a precious gift of the Holy Spirit, because it has given rise to and continues to call forth various forms of apostolic life and animates the faithful to actively engage in Gospel witness.
Your founder realized that in order to live in communion with God Jesus Christ must be put at the center, “the divine model of the entire human race” (Complete Works II, p. 541). In this Holy Year of Mercy, I like to remember that Vincent Pallotti was blessed to recognize that Jesus is the Apostle of the Father, full of love and rich in mercy. He is the one who fulfills its mission by revealing to everyone the tender love and the infinite mercy of the Father. This mystery of God’s fatherhood, which opens to every man, through the work of the Son, his heart full of love and compassion, acquires special significance in our times. Before our eyes run daily scenes of violence, merciless faces, hearts hardened and desolate. We have such need to remind ourselves of that Father, whose heart thinks of all and desires the salvation of every person. Mercy is “the power that conquers all that fills our hearts with love, and that consoles with forgiveness” (Bull Misericordiae Voltes , 9).
The reflections of your General Assembly focus on the following words of your holy Founder: “The fundamental rule of our minimal Congregation is the life of our Lord Jesus Christ to imitate him in humility and trust with all possible perfection in all works of the hidden life and of public evangelical ministry “(Collected Works III, p. 40). In light of these precious indications, each member of the Pallottine Family is called to place the person of Christ and His faithful following as the foundation of one’s own existence.
Contemplating the life of Jesus and looking at our life as pilgrims in this world with so many challenges, we feel the need of a profound conversion and the urgency of reviving faith in Him. Only then can we serve our neighbor in charity! Every day we are called to renew our trust in Christ and to draw inspiration from His life to fulfill our mission, because “Jesus is the first and greatest evangelizer. In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit”(ibid., N. Evangelii gaudium, 12).
Dear Brothers, I encourage you to push forward along your path with joy and hope, committing yourselves with all your heart and with all your strength, so that the charism of your Founder bear abundant fruit also in our time. He loved to repeat that the call to the apostolate is not reserved to some, but is addressed to everyone, “regardless of their status, their condition, their profession, their fortune, everyone can take part” (Complete Works IV, p. 346). The Union of Catholic Apostolate, which is the bearer of the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti, offers so many spaces and opens new horizons for participating in the mission of the Church. For this reason it is called to operate with renewed vigor to reawaken faith and rekindle charity, especially among the most vulnerable segments of the population, the spiritually and materially poor. In this, you are sustained by the example of so many of your confreres, authentic witnesses of the Gospel, who have dedicated their lives to serving others. I’ve known them myself during my pastoral service in Argentina and cherish them in grateful memory.
You can help those you meet in your ministry to rediscover the immense love of God in our lives, in the footsteps of St. Vincent Pallotti, who considered himself a miracle of God’s mercy. He wrote: “O my Jesus, in you shines the incomprehensible excess of your infinite love and your infinite mercy” (Complete Works XIII, p. 169). I entrust all of you to the protection of Mary Most Holy, whom St. Vincent Pallotti venerated especially as Queen of the Apostles. Her good example of apostolic zeal and perfect charity, invites us to pray without ceasing to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles of today, so that the Gospel of her Son can be proclaimed in every part of the world. I also entrust myself to your prayers, and, while I wish the best fruit from the works of your Assembly, I whole-heartedly impart my Apostolic Blessing.